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Monday, February 10, 2014

Why Do Some St. Louis County Cops Wear Military-Style Camouflage Uniforms?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge St. Louis County police arrest a protester.
  • St. Louis County police arrest a protester.

Ever see St. Louis County cops in camouflage military fatigues on the street and wonder why they're dressed like they're going to Iraq instead of Creve Coeur?

That's the county's Tactical Operations Unit -- the SWAT team -- and Sergeant Matthew Pleviak tells Daily RFT that the camouflage is worn so the SWAT cops can "blend in with the environment."

Blend in with the environment of Creve Coeur?

"If you go to any subdivison, there's grass and trees and bushes," Pleviak explains.

SWAT teams wearing military camouflage is not new. It's been done since at least after the Vietnam War when a few Special Weapons and Tactics teams in police departments around the country began wearing fatigues as opposed to all-black or blue uniforms during raids or standoffs.

What is new -- or at least newer -- is that SWAT teams like the St. Louis County's Tactical Operations Unit are also used during more mundane situations, such as arresting Monsanto protesters for allegedly blocking the driveway of the company's campus.

See also: Monsanto Shareholder Meeting Had More Cops, Arrests Than Votes for GMO Labels

click to enlarge Protester arrested in front of Monsanto headquarters.
  • Protester arrested in front of Monsanto headquarters.

And utilizing specially trained officers wearing military uniforms in such situations reminds some people of that growing topic of debate: Are camouflage uniforms a sign of police militarization?

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